Backbenchers revolt against ‘framework’ bill

At least three Cayman Islands government backbench MLAs said Friday that they would oppose a fiscal framework bill brought to the Legislative Assembly, leading to some concern the territorial government might reject the United Kingdom-ordered financial management plan.  

However, the particular amendments to the country’s Public Management and Finance Law being debated Friday in the assembly were yanked out from underneath lawmakers and new version – the third one presented last week – was given to members of the house at the end of the work day.  

It is assumed the latest revised version of the amended bill that seeks to put the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility agreement into law will replace the one that was debated last week, although Premier 
McKeeva Bush had not made any public statements to that effect at press time.  

Though the debate Friday afternoon was on the now-scuttled second version of the amendment bill, some comments from government backbenchers, like George Town MLA Ellio Solomon, raised questions about whether legislators might approve any plan that implements the fiscal framework.  

Mr. Solomon said he thought some fellow legislators had still not realised “the gravity of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility” that Premier Bush signed in November 2011.  

“[The UK] can now dictate to us, pretty much, what we can spend and how we can spent it,” Mr. Solomon said. “I have a problem… when jolly old England can send legislation here and say ‘forget about 21 days notice, forget about amendments… I want what I want’. I have a problem with that because it’s undemocratic; England wouldn’t do it in their own country.” 

“I wonder at times why would a mother treat her child like this?” asked backbench Bodden Town MLA Dwayne Seymour, referring to the territorial relationship between Cayman and the UK wherein England is sometimes referred to as the Mother Country.  

West Bay MLA Cline Glidden Jr. was the other government backbencher to voice objections to the amendment bill Friday. “It is obvious now… that the government is not united in a position on this bill,” said George Town MLA Kurt Tibbetts, a member of the opposition party.  

Opposition party members pointed out that England had first required the fiscal framework agreement, also signed by then-UK Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham in November 2011, to be enacted into law by July 2012. It was not and government missed another deadline to place the measures into law by September.  

Cayman Brac and Little Cayman MLA Moses Kirkconnell, an opposition party member, asked colleagues to put their emotions aside and accept the document, which requires certain processes to be undertaken when it comes to public project bids, government borrowing and general financial management. The concern, among other things, is that the fiscal framework agreement won’t allow government the flexibility to get public projects under way to assist the local economy because it does not allow Cayman to borrow money until June 2016 and places tight monitoring restrictions on public-private partnership agreements.  

Mr. Solomon blasted the opposition party, accusing its members of running up huge debts as the government between 2005 and 2009 and placing Cayman in the position where it could not adhere to certain requirements in the Public Management and Finance Law.  

“They have given the Foreign and Commonwealth Office what they always wanted; greater control over the finances of this country,” he said. “Now all of a sudden they are financial geniuses.”  

Mr. Tibbetts, who was the leader of the last government, said Friday that if lawmakers could put political differences aside, they might see their way clear to realising the UK-drafted fiscal framework was an opportunity for the Cayman Islands, rather than its death sentence.  

“While it means the reins are tight, we are certainly not finding ourselves in totally untenable circumstances,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “This entire country; the elected arm of government, the official arm of government, the public service, the core government and entire public sector has not come to grips with the fact that life is not how it used to be and we have to learn to live differently. 

“This… should really be looked upon as the one time that we can’t be blamed… but we can fix it, even if we are forced to do so.”  

Ellio Solomon

Mr. Solomon
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3 COMMENTS

  1. This has got to be the statement of the century!

    I wonder at times why would a mother treat her child like this? asked backbench Bodden Town MLA Dwayne Seymour.

    The answer is simple.

    This child has been extremely ‘naughty’ and is getting a ‘political’ spanking on the proverbial bum.

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  2. Just as there comes a time in every man’s existence when he must stop and evaluate what he wishes to gain out of life, so too must the people of a country.
    MLA Seymour. Just as a man living under his mother’s roof is bound by his mother’s rules, so too these Cayman Islands CANNOT expect to have the freedom of ‘Independence’ while demanding the protection of a ‘Colony’.
    It is either one or the other.
    Any caring parent makes the tough decisions for the long term good of their children.
    In the end, it is really very simple: Either follow my Rules, or leave.
    Also, MLA Solomon conveniently forgets that the REASON why Jolly old England is forcing us to implement the FFR is because of the GROSS MISMANAGEMENT of public finances by the very UDP Government, of which HE is a member.
    Stop blaming the PPM. The UDP have had 4 years to show that they could ‘Fix’ the country’s problems. Instead, all the UDP have displayed is highly questionable Governance and a refusal to give accountability for the PEOPLE’s money.

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  3. @ Annie

    I think Solomon is justified when he states – I have a problem with that because it’s undemocratic; England wouldn’t do it in their own country.

    To be proper Anne, we are not a colony like in slavery days. We are a British Overseas Territory (BOT)in accordance to the 2002 Act. And our financial mismanagement of the country’s finances, was not just a UDP doing, Kurt Tibbetts does not deny that PPM contributed to the financial mess as well. So this is not to polarize a party against another party!

    In the UK do you hear of the Queen or Queen Elizabeth and Her Lords ordering Parliament on what they can spend and how they can spend the country’s money?

    NO… NOT AT ALL!

    WHAT WOULD YOU CALL THAT?

    DEMOCRACY?!

    That would cause every lawmaker in England to cry foul! And so Ellio, Dwayne, and crew crying foul is JUSTIFIABLE! I can’t see why it isn’t justifiable?

    WILL THE UK ELITE DO THE RIGHT OR WILL THEY CONTINUE TO UNDERMINE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRACY?

    You want the OT’s to have good governance, more transparency, and to financially manage themselves aright – STOP PLAYING BULLY AND GIVE THEM MORE DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS AND PREVELEGES IN THEIR JURISDICTIONS!

    ITS THAT SIMPLE! STOP DEALING WITH US LIKE A COLONIAL MASTER AND START RESPECTING THE PEOPLE AND ALLOWING THE PEOPLE TO DETHRONE THEIR OWN LEADERS AND ESTABLISH THEIR OWN DEMOCRACIES! ENOUGH WITH THESE DRACONIAN MEASURES!

    I AM NO UDP, BUT I DON’T BLAME THE UDP MEMBERS ONE BIT FOR SPEAKING OUT!

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